sabato 6 ottobre 2007


Roughly half way between my house and the office there is a large supermarket. In front of the supermarket is a small park area, with benches and a childrens' playground. On one of these benches "lives" a homeless man, who I pass everyday. When I go by in the morning, he is usually sleeping, and in the evening he will generally be standing at the nearby traffic light, dirty rag in hand, attempting to "clean" car windscreens. The other morning I passed and he was sitting on his little bench, combing his hair, using a small, cracked hand mirror. He keeps his personal belongings - enough to fill two carrier bags -under a tree close to the bench. I have never seen him talk to anybody, he doesn't even have a dog for company, yet he appears to go about his life like the rest of us. It sounds so much like a clichè but it makes you realise how lucky you are. I heard on the news the other day about another homeless man in Milan who was arrested for theft (he was trying to steal a jacket from a supermarket), and who confirmed his official address as being a certain bench in a certain piazza. This was reported in a very lighthearted, almost jokey way, as if the fact that this man has no home was entertaining, which I found rather sad. In the same report they talked about the fact that homeless people have more or less set up a community in one of the cemeterys in Rome, where they have broken into old tombs and are sleeping there at night and then leaving them locked up during the day when the visitors arrive. It's been cold recently in Milan, and we have felt the effects of not having any heating (they have to wait until a certain date before they can legally switch on comunal heating here). I guess we should think ourselves lucky.....

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